Carrying Nonlethal – Yay or Nay

Forming a competent EDC isn’t about seeing how many knives and weird coins you can pocket carry. It’s about opening up your options and carrying the right tools to make it home. Sure, guns and knives are a valuable part of a well thought out EDC, but so can a flashlight, a multi-tool, and even a nonlethal tool. Today we are going to talk all about nonlethal tools and why they might be an invaluable part of your EDC.

Nonlethal Legalities

Before we go too deep into the pros, cons, tools, and more, it might be wise to address the legal concerns. Everywhere is a little different. You might be able to carry a gun but can’t pack a can of pepper spray or a taser. In my state, I can carry a gun but am limited to a certain ounce volume for a chemical spray.

It’s odd, so make sure you know your state and local laws regarding the use of nonlethal weapons.

Why You Should Carry Nonlethal

Not every situation should be solved with a gun or other lethal tool. Most situations don’t call for deadly force. A nonlethal tool could deter a situation that might not warrant deadly force but might warrant some force. Especially in an event where you may not know the full situation but somehow find yourself involved.

Also, as someone who has dealt with aggressive dogs before, a little pepper spray keeps you from getting bit. Pepper spray is often easier and safer to deploy in a situation with a rapidly moving dog. If I miss with a chemical irritant, I’m not sending lead somewhere else to harm someone else.

That brings us to another major advantage of nonlethal tools. Some self-defense situations may call for deadly force, but you might not be able to deploy deadly force safely. Crowded environments, rapidly moving attackers, or whatever. Here a nonlethal option can be life-saving. Plus, in the event you might not be able to access your firearm, you may be able to access another tool to fend off an attacker.

In my state, you can’t carry a gun at a college but can carry a nonlethal, non-projectile-based tool for self-defense. Here a simple nonlethal tool might be the only option available to you.

The Tools

So what are these nonlethal tools? Well, there are numerous options out there. They range from air-powered projectile guns shooting rubber or pepper balls to crappy impact weapons you probably can’t use well. The two big nonlethal weapons we should pay mind to are the stun gun and the chemical irritant option, aka pepper spray.

Sadly, 99% of stun guns suck. Lots of cheap, crappy stun guns are pawned off at prices both low and high. When it comes to the electrically charged stun gun, you want a good one. Sabre makes a solid contact stun gun for a low price, and Taser makes the Pulse, which offers you a projectile-based stun gun.

The Sabre stun guns don’t offer you extra range but tend to be easier to conceal. The Pulse is the size of a large handgun but offers you some range. Both of these add a little bulk to your EDC. It’s why I tend to stray away from them. They aren’t a bad choice, just a bulky one.

I prefer pepper spray. Specifically, I prefer pepper spray from Sabre or Mace. Both make quality options that are small and convenient to carry. Plus, they are both trusted to supply law enforcement and make water-based trainers.


Oh, speaking of, nonlethal is no different than lethal in terms of your need to train and practice with the tool you’ve chosen. This can be what’s essentially target practice or force on force training. Chemical weapons have water-based trainers that make for easy, safe, and effective force on force practice.

Look for training opportunities if available. If not, practice and become proficient in your ability to draw and safely use your weapon of choice. It’s not different than learning to use your firearm. Being proficient ensures you can use the tool under stress and survive your encounter. Heck, learning how to draw, deploy, and switch to your lethal option quickly can be invaluable in a violent encounter.

Nonlethal For Everyone

I don’t suggest nonlethal as an every day, all the time carry. It’s something you can reserve for most days, but ditch when you need to travel light. To me, it falls right below medical on my EDC priorities. If you carry three knives, a multi-tool, a weird amount of challenge coins, and don’t carry medical or nonlethal, you need to reexamine your priorities.

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.